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beasts which appeared in visions to Daniel and John were also symbolical of the different kingdoms which should succeed each other in ages then future.
But it is not necessary to make the nice distinctions in language which rhetoricians have done : (viz. personification, apostrophe, hyperbole, comparison, metaphor, allegory, &c:) it is quite sufficient for the biblical student, that he consider the Scriptures divided into two classes only; namely literal and figurative. The first class includes all those passages which ought to be understood according to the primitive meaning of words; the second includes all those which require a different construction, and the words of which must be interpreted as representing something else. Example—"Thou hast brought a vine out of Egypt and planted it.”h It is possible to bring a vine out of Egypt and plant it in Judea: why then not understand it literally? Answer: There is a necessity to understand it figuratively from the connexion and scope of the passage. The same remarks will apply to Isa. v, 2 : "and planted it with the choicest There the prophet explains it by saying, “The vineyard of the
Lord of Hosts is the house of Israel and the men of Judah his pleasant plant." Again, "I am the vine:" every person acquainted with the common use of language must acknowledge that this must be understood figuratively.
I think the rules of interpretation laid down in No. I, page 161, are sufficiently comprehensive to include every word in the Bible. With these rules in view I shall proceed to point out those passages which are to be understood literally and
h Ps. lxxx, 8.
those which are to be interpreted figuratively.
Let us first contemplate those Scriptures which relate to the Jewish nation;-and then those which relate to the Messiah.
It is very evident that the dispersion of the tribes of Israel among the nations is literal and as the threatenings denounced against them have been literally fulfilled, it appears certain that the promises of their restoration will also be literally accomplished. Thus saith the Lord, I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from
all nations whither I have driven
i Jer. xxix, 14.
you, saith the Lord, and I will
bring you again into the place 'whence I caused you to be carried away captive."i
The prophecies of Jesus relative to the present dispersion of the Jews deserve special attention. Jerusalem was besieged and taken, the temple utterly destroyed, and the Jews scattered into all nations. These things were literally fulfilled: what, then, can we expect but a literal restoration? Lo! the days come, saith the Lord, that I will bring again the captivity of my people
́ Israel and Judah, saith the Lord:
' and I will cause them to return to
the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall possess it." From many passages of the sacred Scriptures it is evident, that the people to be restored are the dispersed of Israel and Judah: they are God's covenant people; and he solemnly declares "I will not break my ' covenant with them for I am the 'Lord their God."k The ordinances of the heavenly bodies are not more firmly established than God's covenant with the house of Israel. If those ordinances depart from
k Lev. xxvi, 44.
j Jer. xxx, 3.
affection are still recognised;
have forsaken mine house; I have 'left mine heritage; I have given 'the dearly beloved of my soul into the hands of her enemies." And the mercy in reserve for them often beams forth in the promises of a glorious restoration : "I will strengthen the house of Judah, and I will save the house of Joseph,
and I will bring them again to
place them; for I have mercy on
them; and they shall be as though
I had not cast them off; for I am the Lord their God, and I will 'hear them."m
m Zech. x, 6.
ON PREACHING THE MILLENNIUM.
his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the earth, and swears that in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he has declared to his servants the prophets."a For is not this as much as to say, that about this time the light of prophecy should dawn on mankind; and that in its light, many good men should preach the Gospel in its purity and simplicity through the world,—should declare the approach of divine judgement wherever that Gospel is despised or corrupted, and prophesy the glorious period which is to follow of a redeemed and happy Earth. That it is so I shall endeavour to prove.
According to Sir Isaac Newton, the Lamb who has been opening in heaven the sealed book of prophecy, for the first time comes to the earth
■ Rev. x, 1-7.
with that book open in his hand.
According to Sir Isaac, we read in Daniel, that "at the time of the end, the Turkish empire should be 'troubled with tidings out of the ' north and out of the east, therefore he shall go forth with great fury, &c yet he shall come to his
end and none shall help him. And
' at that time shall Michael stand up,
the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people."'d Compare with this passage Rev. x, 5: And the angel which I saw stand upon the sea and upon the earth, &c." Recollect also that the high priest at this period "stands on an elevated place in the people's court;" and I think we must be convinced that these three are the same: for not one jot of prophecy shall pass away.
It is at the time that the Turkish empire comes to its end, and not after it, that Michael stands up: and as that empire seems already tottering to its fall, the period for it may not be far off.
Our Saviour tells us, Matt. xxiv, 14, that this Gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations and then shall the End come." That is, that the good tidings of his coming to take the kingdom should be preached in all the world; that all nations, forewarned of what was coming, should witness the accomplishment of prophecy, and learn to honour and turn to him as their Saviour and King. I will submit therefore to the christian world, whether the " preaching of the Millennium" may not be near at hand.* LAICUS.
b Rev. xiv, 6, 7.
c Page 270.
d Dan. xi, xii.
* We conceive the preaching of the Millennium (that is to say, if we understand Laicus, of approaching judgements and the personal advent of Messiah) not only to be near at hand, but already begun. There may not yet be a general reception of these truths among the pious ministers of God's word; but they are rapidly extending. We have already four periodical journals especially devoted to prophecy, and in which the doctrines in question have been fully declared. We refer to the Morning Watch and Investigator in England, the Christian Herald in Ireland, and the Watchman in France. The Continental Society has likewise been instrumental in extending this preaching in various parts of the continent; some of the missionaries of the Society for converting the Jews have carried it still further. We know likewise that the subject begins to attract great attention in America. Millennarian doctrines are now declared from hundreds of pulpits in Britain and as to approaching judgements, the impression is so widely spread, that we believe most serious christians are awfully persuaded in this respect; and we know that this persuasion is being made instrumental in drawing the attention of such to prophecy, and to the coming of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ. ED.
ON THE PROPHETICAL PARTS OF THE 23RD, 24TH, AND 25TH CHAPTERS OF ST. MATTHEW'S GOSPEL.
The important prophecies included in these chapters commence at the 34th verse of the 23d chapter. Our Saviour, in the foregoing verses, proves the Jews to be the children of them who killed the prophets;" and declares that they would fill up the measure of their fathers. He then proceeds to predict that they would persecute and put to death those "prophets, wise men, and scribes, whom he would send unto them; so that all the blood of the martyrs, from Abel to Zacharias, should be visited upon that “ generation," or race. The latter portion, however, of this prophecy demands especial attention; and I would submit that this Zacharias, "the son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar," was not the prophet Zechariah, whose writings are extant in our Bibles, nor Zechariah, the son of Jehoiada the priest," who is mentioned (2 Chron. xxiv, 20, 21) to have been slain in the court of the temple; but Zacharias, the son of Baruch, who, as Josephus relates, was slain by the Zealots, in the middle of the temple, just before the destruction of that temple by the Romans. It does not indeed appear from the historian, that this Zacharias was a christian martyr ;-but we should bear in mind that Josephus wrote his history to propitiate the favor of the Romans towards his country, and to exalt it in their eyes; and that he passes over, as far as it is possible for an historian so to do, all mention of the christians what
ever. It does however appear, that this Zacharias was eminent for his hatred of wickedness; and that he had the boldness to reprove the people, for their transgressions of the law: he may, therefore, as regards character, whether Jew or christian, be pronounced "righteous."
If we do not take this person for the Zacharias spoken of by our Lord, but refer the designation to either of the Zechariahs of the Old Testament, it would seem that the Jews were not to be held guilty for the blood of the martyrs, (including the most precious blood of all-that of our Lord Jesus Christ,) shed by them subsequent to a very remote murder. It may also be remarked, in passing, that the Bible no where expresses that the prophet Zechariah came to his death by violence.
Our Lord then pathetically laments the obstinacy of the Jewish nation in rejecting him; and predicts that their house, or temple, and that should be left desolate ; they should not see Him (their Messiah) henceforth, till (instead of making him a curse* as they were about to do) they should hail Him as a blessing. By the expression,
ye shall not see me," we must not understand that they would not do so visually and bodily, for we know they saw much of him in this sense afterwards; but that they would not discern him spiritually, and in faith, to be that Messiah who was
gather them together," until his second coming. The disciples seem to have had their minds so far en
* Deut. xxi, 23; Gal. iii, 13.
lightened, as to understand our
The specific branch of our Lord's answer commences at the 15th verse of the 24th chapter. In reply to the first question of the disciples, he gives a detail of the signs which should take place prior to the destruction of Jerusalem, and enable them to provide for their safety.Then follow predictions of the tribulations which would begin with that event, and continue through all subsequent ages until his second coming.
As to their second question, He says, Then (or after that) shall appear the sign of the Son of Man
2nd. What shall be the sign of in heaven, and then shall all the thy coming?"
3rd. world ?"
And of the end of the
Our Lord seems to answer these questions (each having a manifest relation to, and dependence on, the other, and yet being distinct) first generally, then specifically;—and there is doubtless throughout the whole a designed obscurity, in some respects, in order that the people of God might, in all ages, have exercise for their faith, humility, and diligent inquiry.
tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of Man coming, in the clouds of heaven, with power, and great glory, &c." He beautifully illustrates the approach of these events (viz. the destruction of Jerusalem and the second advent) by a reference to the familiar evidence of the approach of summer, by the fig-tree putting forth leaves. Then he declares that that “ generation," or race of people, (although their nation might be destroyed,) should remain till all these things should be fulfilled; and that heaven and earth, (kingdoms and peoples,) should pass away, but his words should not pass away. How very remarkably, in this view of our Saviour's meaning, have these predictions been accomplished !
The first or general branch of his answer is as follows.
He then tells them, that "the day and hour" is known only to the Father; therefore they must watch, and not suffer their vigilance to abate by thinking he delayed, (or would not perform his promise of,) coming; for he would come, in a day and hour, of which the slothful, and the evil, should not be aware. The parable
He warns them against false Christs, and not to be troubled at news of wars and commotions; for such things must come to pass before the end. Great judgements were to be but 'the beginning of sorrows." His saints were to be persecuted; false prophets were to arise; iniquity was to abound, and the love of many to wax cold. "But," he interposes, (doubtless for the support and encouragement of his people in those times of trial, through all ages) he that shall endure (or
wait patiently) unto (or for) the end the same shall be saved."-The Gospel was to be preached for a witness to all nations; and then the end should come."